If you’ve ever lived in or spent any amount of time in New York City then you’ve undoubtedly become well acquainted with some of your local watering holes. There are more bars in New York City than any other city in the United States and most of them are pretty good. Some are more locals, some more tourists, some college-ish, some suits, some pick up joints, some dives but almost all have some character; especially downtown. If you live in Greenwich Village as I do, then you become territorial about what bars (and restaurants) you go to. It takes a lot to get a new one into your rotation. In New York, if you live downtown you almost judge people by what bars they like and where they like to eat. So tread lightly and while I love many local spots, here are 5 of my favorites in the Village.
White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 (at 11th)
The White Horse Tavern is one of the oldest and most historic bars in New York City. It is a west village landmark and a great meeting place. I lived across the street from it for 3 months once in 2007 but have been coming to White Horse since 2000. It is the perfect spot for a sunset drink in the summer and a great place to warm up with a whiskey in the winter. The White Horse is perhaps most famous as the place where Dylan Thomas drank, before returning home and eventually becoming ill and dying a few days later of unrelated causes. Other famous patrons include Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Norman Mailer and Jack Kerouac. The White Horse is the tavern – “Once upon a time there was a tavern” – in the opening line of Gene Raskin’ s song Those Were The Days. The food is OK at best. Eat before or after but have a cocktail and soak up this awesome place. Locals might not know you are from out of town.
46 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014 (at Leroy)
I have literally been going to the Village Tavern since 1998 when I was not exactly legal to drink but don’t tell anyone. Their slogan “Drinking Consultants since 1998” is pretty spot on as many young patrons do receive help in getting absolutely wasted at this classic post college bar. At this point I may be a little old to go to VT as I call it; but I have been going there so long and know all the bartenders that it is hard to not pop in from time to time. The freestanding building VT is located in is 100 years old and the bar itself is nearly that old and is still in use. The drinks are relatively cheap and the music is great. It gets packed on weekends so if you want to make friends with the busy bartenders, go by during the week before the B&T (bridge and tunnel) crowd comes in for the weekend.
145 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012 (between Thompson and LaGuardia)
A Bleecker Street landmark, Peculier Pub has embraced the unique spirit of Greenwich Village for more than three decades. Inside you will see why the Pub, with its turn of the century tin ceilings, bottle cap mosaics and long wooden tables, has withstood the test of time. They offer over 300 beers from the four corners of the world including some of my all time traveler favorites like Tusker from Kenya. The music is rock from an old jukebox and the bartenders know their stuff. It is literally across the street from where I live but I have been coming to Peculier Pub since freshman year in college (first year of Uni). In fact, I actually spent New Year’s Eve 1997 and 1998 (with a killer fake ID) shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of others sweating my ass off in this bar. So it has a special place in my heart; not to mention a lot of character and the best selection of imported beers in the city!
142 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012 (at LaGuardia)
GMT Tavern is only about a year old but has quickly become one of my favorite places in the Village. It replaced the old and filthy Senor Swanky’s Mexican shithole restaurant that used to be there. It has great food and is really well decorated. It’s hard to find legitimately good food at a pub in New York and GMT pulls it off and at good prices. They also have a great British style bar with an awesome selection of fine scotch, whiskey and wine. Not to mention some great imported beers and awesome bartenders. The other thing that sets GMT apart in my eye is that it doesn’t have TV’s. Not even one. Especially in the NYU neighborhood it is located in-it stands apart as a place where you can go, have a sophisticated drink without a ton of college kids and TV’s blaring sports or music. Don’t get me wrong, I love sports bars but GMT is the perfect antidote as a nice quiet place to have a good drink and good conversation. Ask for Liam and tell him I sent you.
237 Sullivan Street, New York, NY 10012 (between Bleecker and w3rd)
Speaking of sports bars; Triona’s is a new vice for me and has quickly become one of my favorite hang outs in the Village. Triona’s is a distinctly local sports bar with a very loyal and friendly following. I started going because a lunatic Chicago Bears fan friend of mine said it was known as a Bears bar. So I went to watch football once and I was hooked. I go to watch NFL there and I don’t even like the Bears. Truthfully I just like to watch my friend Ben be tortured by their futility. The delightful Irish namesake owner and her partner Mike are great people and the crowd is seemingly the same every Sunday for Bears games. The rest of the year it is a great spot to watch a game and relax, play darts or pool and get to know some local people. The only food they have is chili on Sundays for NFL football but you can bring in or get delivery from anywhere to Triona’s. The Peanut Butter Co. is across the street as well if you want to eat like Elvis with bacon and fluff on your peanut butter sandwich.